LETTER FROM…Edinburgh

Story and photography by Charlotte Herrold, a Toronto writer who is pursuing a Masters degree in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh.

I’ve got to hand it to girls in Edinburgh—they are dedicated to their footwear. Despite the rain, the steeply sloping streets, deep grooves between cobblestones, and all kinds of obstacles (the etiquette to pick up after one’s dog doesn’t seem to exist in certain parts of the city . . .), women young and old are still wearing sky-high, razor-sharp heels and actually managing to walk in them.

And it’s not as if they’re hopping from door to cab to door—the way to get around Edinburgh is by (well-dressed) foot. A native Torontonian, I’m used to being able to stick out my arm and hail a cab on any street corner, but such isn’t the case here in Auld Reekie (and by the way, that’s Scots for Old Smoky, not Old Smelly!). If it’s not a pre-hire, it’s not happening, especially late on a Saturday night. So when I’m getting dressed for an evening out, I ask myself: “If I can’t get a cab home, am I going to be able to make it back in these shoes?” or “Will I be warm enough in this cropped jacket if I have to walk across town in the rain?”

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LETTER FROM…The Taj Mahal

The Eiffel Tower. (Just kidding.) Story and photography by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

Nobody likes a womanizer, but in Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s case, considering it was the 15th century and all, and he did build the palace of all palaces for his one true lady love, I’ll let his famously wandering ways slide.

You can’t come to India and not see the Taj right? So the BF and I boarded a train and made the five-hour journey (and if you’ve ever been to India you’ll know that a train that’s supposed to take five hours takes at least seven) to Agra, home of the UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven man-made wonders of the world.

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LETTER FROM…Kanchanaburi

All aboard the elephants in Kanchanaburi. Story by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

In a desperate attempt to flee the civil war zone in Bangkok, my boyfriend and I hopped on a packed-to-the-brim $3 minibus bound for Kanchanaburi, a small town two hours northwest of Bangkok, and the home of the famous Bridge on the River Kwai.

It’s a beautiful town surrounded by lush mountains and rushing waterfalls, but the style scene, apart from a handful of well-dressed lady boys, is undoubtedly all about the Tevas and Ts—definitely less than desirable for a girl who was looking forward to exercising her AmEx in the big city. To soothe my shopping woes I figured I could at least take a ride in style, so I signed up for an afternoon atop an elephant at the Taweechai Elephant Camp.

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LETTER FROM…Edinburgh

The Bar Missoni in Edinburgh. Story by Charlotte Herrold, a Toronto writer who is pursuing a Masters degree in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh.

It’s spring in Edinburgh. The days are getting longer, trees are blooming in pink and white flowers, and the parks are a sea of vibrant daffodils. The shops on Princes Street are stocked with flirty floral frocks, elegant linen blazers, and sexy summer sandals. Restaurants have set up their patios and switched to summer menus. There’s just one thing missing—the warm weather.

With daily highs rarely climbing past 10 degrees and lows hovering just above zero, it certainly doesn’t feel like spring. And after a record-breaking cold winter, I’m craving some balmy weather. But impending deadlines and post-eruption volcanic hiccups mean a weekend jaunt to somewhere sunny will have to wait. In the meantime, there’s always the next best thing: a sip of Italian luxury at the Bar Missoni.

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LETTER FROM…Chiang Mai

The Chedi, a chic restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Story by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

As part of my boyfriend’s recent birthday extravaganza I had the pleasure of spending an indulgent evening at The Chedi, Chiang Mai. Owned by the super luxe GHM group of hotels, the resort offers a sleek yet cozy respite from the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s northern capital.
To start the night off right, we’re led up a set of narrow iron steps that wind their way up to the open air hotel bar, which resembles an architect’s dream treehouse, to sip on some of the best vodka mojitos of my life—and trust me, I’m an experienced professional.

LETTER FROM…Hoi An, Vietnam

Beside the river in Hoi An. Story and photography by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

Once you’ve been to Hoi An it will pain you to shop retail ever again. A UNESCO heritage town on the Vietnam coast, Hoi An is the cloth capital of Vietnam and best known for its rows upon rows of custom clothiers. On a recent three-day stay with my boyfriend we popped into To To Boutique armed with Net-a-Porter images and $100 each to our names. We left with two fully-lined and initialed twill cotton blazers (for him), a slim black linen pant suit and dress shirt (pour moi), and money to spare in the pockets of our new bespoke britches.

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LETTER FROM…Hanoi

Story and photography by Jordan Porter.

High Tea at The Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi

I am a city girl. I can rough it, no doubt, but there’s nothing that I love more than a day of shopping, eating and lounging in the lap of luxury. So, in a city where the majority of food is cooked—and eaten—on the street, and the shopkeepers peddle Prado and Vuittan, an afternoon at the grand Sofitel Metropole for a tea for two is a true treat.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some of the best meals of my life on those streets, but making the move from a pint-size plastic stool that barely fits a cheek (the Vietnamese are a mini bunch, so much so that at 110 pounds I’ve actually been called “big girl”) to plush lounge chairs, from chopsticks that are cleaned in a bucket to fancy French silverware, from my ritual après feast finger lick to crisp white linen napkins, well, the idea is music to my ears.

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LETTER FROM…Luang Prabang (really)

Story and photo by Jordan Porter. Jordan, a former assistant fashion editor at FASHION Magazine, is currently on a year-long tour around the world, visiting Vietnam, Bali, and now northern Thailand. She will be sending The Style Notebook dispatches from her travels.

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a celebrity spotting.

I know, I know, they’re just “people” blah blah, but I doubt that there are many people out there who don’t get a little thrill from a star sighting, or a little pang of jealousy when the story being told isn’t their own. A trip to New York, L.A., and even Yorkville come TIFF time always lacks a little lustre if it’s not accompanied by a movie star moment or two, but living in Asia, I don’t expect much in the way of Hollywood glamour. I usually get my frivolous thrills from baby monkey sightings.

So you can imagine my excitement when on a recent side trip to the tiny picturesque town of Luang Prabang (a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit for anyone planning a South East Asian excursion), I spied Jude Law and Sienna Miller getting cozy all over town.

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LETTER FROM…Amsterdam

Story and photographs by Charlotte Herrold. Originally from Toronto, Charlotte is pursuing a Masters degree in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh. She will be sending us dispatches from the Scottish capital, but her first post is about Amsterdam, where she was stranded due to the Icelandic volcanic ash.

Ey-jaf-jall-a-jö-kull!” My mother is enunciating as I struggle to hear her over a bad connection in the middle of the tourist-crowded Dam Square last Thursday night.

“What?” I can’t really believe what she’s saying—a volcano has erupted in Iceland and now I might have to take a ferry back to Edinburgh? Joey and I laugh at the prospect as we huddle against the cold and run into the nearest pub for another drink. We’ve been all over the city, from the Museum Quarter to Jordaan to the infamous Red Light District, scouting out the most authentic bars in each neighbourhood—“Listen, people are speaking Dutch here, this is a good place.” For tourists ourselves, we are oddly particular about avoiding spots that look like they might be listed in a Lonely Planet guide. This next place is presided over by a black-and-white cat who sits sleepily on the bar top, while three blond men fill glasses with Bavaria. Perfect!

“I doubt the flights will be cancelled,” Joey says, as we clink our glasses. “And if they are, well, it’s another day or two in Amsterdam. Great!”

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